Stripper’s Guide Q & A

Tim Foster recently sent me a list of questions about newspaper comic strips. I think they’re great questions, so I decided to answer here in the blog.

Q When did the first tabloid size Sunday comic sections appear?

A We usually think of tabloid comic strip sections as first appearing with the tabloid newspapers. The first modern mainstream tabloid paper was the New York Daily News. The News appeared in 1919, followed by the Mirror in 1924 and a slew of competitors thereafter. The Daily News at first included no Sunday comics section, but due to its huge success (it quickly became New York’s best-selling newspaper) that feature was added in 1923.

But of course we here at Stripper’s Guide never settle for the simple answer. It was in fact a full decade earlier, on February 23 1913, that the Philadelphia North American converted their standard full-size comic section into a 12 page tabloid section. This is, as far as I know, the first modern tabloid Sunday comic section.

Now if we are willing to look at tabloid sections that included comics, but were not limited to just them, we can go back a lot further. The Brooklyn Eagle, for instance, started a tabloid children’s section in 1907 that included comics, but also featured puzzles, stories and games. The Minneapolis Journal‘s tabloid kids section starting in 1900 featured a comc strip or cartoon on the back cover (but not in color). The New York Herald had a slick tabloid section called Twinkles in 1897 that included gag cartoons, and possibly the occasional comic strip.

But if we are going to qualify any newspaper comic strip printed in color in a tabloid section, then our winner is perfectly handy, because the very first color comic strip printed in an American paper was also the first tabloid strip. The winner, then, is the T.E. Powers’ tabloid comic strip in the Chicago Inter-Ocean, 1893.

More of Tim’s questions tomorrow. If you have any comic strip questions that you think are of general interest, send them on and I’ll try to tackle them.

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